Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beware the Facebook Scam. And The Cure.

* Yawn * So I got to work at 6:40 AM this morning because of some crazy deadline and was interrupted by a facebook chat from one of my friends. Serves me right, I suppose, for logging into facebook at all when I have so much work to do...

7:53am L hey are you there?

7:53am Jamie: yep

7:54am L how are you?

7:54am Jamie good, you?

7:55am L not too good

7:55am Jamie that sucks. what's up

7:56am L I'm stranded in London got mugged at a gun point last night

(Shockingly, my radar has not yet gone off, despite being a highly skeptical person who knows all about these scams. I blame lack of coffee and early hour.)

7:56am Jamie in london?

7:56am L all cash,credit card and phone was stolen

7:57am Jamie i thought those silly english folks only used knives.
sounds more like a DC story.

7:57am L it was a brutal experience but thank God i still have my life and passport

7:57am Jamie are you ok? not hurt?

7:58am L yea
my return flight leaves in few hours but having troubles sorting out the hotel bills
I need your help

(At this point I am starting to become suspicious for any number of reason... not the least of which is, I have not been in touch with this person too much lately, and they are the kind of person who would absolutely have been able to sort out this problem themselves).

7:59am Jamie what can i do?

8:00am L wondering if you could loan me some few $$ to sort out the hotel bills and also take a cab to the airport?

8:01am Jamie sure, but how will i get it to you?

8:01am L you can have it wired to my name via western union
do you know any western union outlet nearby?

(HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! At this point I pick up my phone and call my friend, who is very pleased to hear from me at 8:00 AM with the news that her facebook account has been compromised.)

8:03am Jamie one sec

(Talking to friend on phone, who is now logged in and able to watch the conversation. Interesting and surprising: you can be logged into Facebook from more than one location simultaneously. If someone's logged in to your account, the act of YOU logging in DOES NOT kick them out. Stupid? Yes.)

8:04am L ok. let talk via email.
facebook is tripping

8:04am Jamie
ummm. yeah right.
ha ha
see ya scammer!

(Friend changes password. This action DOES cause all other sessions to be terminated, at least, which I confirmed by testing it myself from two different web browsers).

The Aftermath

Here's where things get a little ugly. This was all fun and games, and the scammer was booted before any damage occurred.

I reported the abuse to Facebook using their hacker victim form. I did this because I thought it was important to let them know about the abuse to add to their data, and possibly help track the way in which the account had been compromised.

I also clearly stated in the report that I had spoken to my friend on the phone and she had already changed her password.

Within minutes, I received a response from Facebook. They disabled her account. They told me to direct my friend to this page to get access restored. That page has no information on how to get your account access restored after Facebook disables it. The page she receives when she tries to log in is similarly unhelpful.

Facebook's security page advises people whose accounts have been compromised to do exactly this: log in and change your password.

Well, we did that.

What To Do Next Time Around

First and foremost, I wasted a golden opportunity to mess with a scammer. For example, this guy enjoyed quite a bit of wonderful thief-mind-f*cking before he finally moved on.

Second: The moral of this story is that no good deed goes unpunished.

If your facebook account is hacked, or the account of a friend is hacked, DO NOT report it to facebook or you will lose access. The only reason I can think to do this, is if you can't get in touch with the friend whose account has been compromised so that they can change their password. But you are setting them up for a big pain in the ass by doing this.

from The Facebook Team
reply-to The Facebook Team
to (Jamie)
date Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 8:22 AM
subject Re: 419 Scam - Friend Report

Hi Jamie,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have taken the appropriate action to secure this person's account.

In order to resolve this matter, please ask the account holder to view the Security section of Facebook's Help Center:

From here, they can take immediate steps to contact us and reestablish ownership of the account.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

User Operations

Thanks a bunch, Jasmin!!


Capitol Hill 20210 said...

good information -- thanks for posting this.

Unknown said...

i posted this on my facebook

Jamie said...

@Jamison, how do we know it was really you?

lacochran said...

Wow. There's a scammer born every minute. Thanks for the heads up.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

mmm, idk, who knows I might've hacked onto someone's facebook to post a link about watching our facebook hackers and related scams, so that I can put my friends at ease. Then I'll have them!